Thursday, 18 July 2013

Cooking With Coconut Oil

As I’ve mentioned before, I am unemployed in July. Sort of, anyway. I work a part time job, but my main job is closed for the summer. This unemployment is always a delicious treat looming on my horizon in April and May, in June I panic that I haven’t gotten organized enough, and my delight starts again July 1st. I’m always filled with hope for this free time. I imagine myself as a cheerier version of Sylvia Plath, or Joni Mitchell. Writing, doing yoga, working in the garden, and just being a Lady of the Canyon. You know. That sort of thing.

This is a very romantic version of myself. What actually happens is I wander around my un-air conditioned house feeling like a caged animal, between naps and binge TV watching. Sometimes I leave to go buy unnecessary beauty products at Shoppers or to buy various tchotchkes for my already overly crowded shelves at Value Village. I also look at Pinterest. A lot. I look at Pinterest and pin things that my Lady of the Canyon persona would do, like paint rocks in my garden with solar paint or create intricate playhouse tents for children I don’t have. I have considered stopping on the side of the road in construction sites various times to pick up a pallet or two, do you even KNOW what you can do with those discarded wood flats? You can basically build a guest cottage in your backyard with those things.

Most of these projects require a power tool, or at least a glue gun, neither of which I own, so realistically those things won’t happen until I marry someone who owns at least one of those apparatuses (apparati?). Anyway, no need to worry about that pallet and terra cotta pot guest cottage now, because I’ve made other observations whilst mindlessly scrolling for hours on end.

Coconut oil. Have you noticed? It’s like the 2013 version of 2001’s soy. You can put it on anything, anywhere. Pinterest has numerous infographics dedicated to its various uses. Your hair! Your skin! Your food! Your dog! It cleans your antique wood armoire whilst simultaneously cleansing your lung cilia! Staining your deck is so 2010, did you know if you add purple food colouring to coconut oil you can get a deep mahogany for your back patio (or pallet guest cottage?).  (Editor’s note: Pinterest does not endorse any of the preceding claims.)

So, I like a bandwagon as much as the next guy. I felt coconut oil was something I needed to try. I needed to get in on this business so that I could not only Pin the recipes, but also hashtag them as #cleaneats and #healthy. I have a food blog. These are tricks of the trade, and I do it all for you, faithful readers.

This means that I also had to go to the organic aisle of my grocery store. I need ORGANIC coconut oil, because I might put it on my skin, you see. It doesn’t matter what I ingest, but God help the company that provides a coconut oil that gives me a rash that other people can see. I cannot have that. So after I purchased my $9.59 jar of oil, I came home and placed it on my shelf. It sat there for several days and nights. I pinned many an infographic, with the best of intentions and plans for my jar of liquid gold. (Actually, it should be said it comes as a white solid. BUT, as I mentioned before, my house is not air-conditioned, so clearly the liquid point for the oil is somewhere around 90 degrees. But that’s not a problem at all, because it was actually easier to work with as a liquid.) Finally, I opened that jar and readied myself for the life-long health benefits I was about to enjoy.

The meal plan was based around some fancy heirloom carrots I bought, simply because they were pretty. Also! From Bradford, ON. So I’m hometown proud. I also grilled a chicken breast, with the mesquite smoker I bought last year.

For the chicken, I simply chopped some rosemary and garlic, and then added that to the oil with some lemon juice, which I marinated the chicken in. And by marinated, I mean I poured it on the chicken, at which point the coconut oil re-solidified due to the temperature of the chicken, (since I am always thinking of food safety precautions) so it sat on top of it. But it doesn’t matter; the flavour was still there when it went on the grill.

I also made quinoa, another jazz-food of the new millennium. I can’t wait to hear what these foods actually do to us in ten years, like when all of a sudden everyone realized soy was causing men to develop fallopian tubes or something and then it was banished to the dollar sale bin of the No Frills. So brutal for soy farmers everywhere! Thank God vegans still demand their tofurkey or the unemployment rate would be even higher. But back to the quinoa. I like it well enough, I’ll eat it plain if need be. But I do like to add a little something to it, and on this particular evening, I added goat milk feta and pesto sauce to it, which was no mistake at all. Try it. It’s still healthy; it’s just even more delicious.

Finally, the carrots. The star of the show. I cut them into long strips, simply because I felt that would plate the best. Then I boiled them until they were just barely soft, but still had a little bite to them. While they boil, toast some slivered or chopped almonds (mine are not nice looking, because I bought whole plain almonds at a gas station on the way home to avoid going into a full on grocery store, and then I tried to chop them at home, but it was a huge mess, with almond chunks shooting across the kitchen and flying into my eyes and pelting the dog. The dog, who felt plain almonds were not pleasing enough to her palate to eat off the floor, even though she eats rat by-product on the regular in her own food, and therefore I am still vacuuming almond chunks from behind the refrigerator). But if you go to a grocery store they will have pre-chopped almonds for you. Or you can get a Slap-Chop, which will chop your almonds in a contained area and you won’t have to have the bits stick to your bare feet for days afterwards in 90-degree heat, despite hauling your Dyson up over the stairs several times to vacuum the kitchen floor. You have lots of options, really. Anyway. When the carrots are cooked, drain them and squeeze a teaspoon of honey in with a teaspoon of coconut oil (this could be butter, but then that would make this entire blog post irrelevant). Add the chopped and toasted almonds.

There you have it. Feel free to turn this into an infographic for Pinterest, if you want.

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